Eastman Chemical Co. is putting its resin samples into designers' hands - literally.
Teamed with London design group Brewery Ltd. and compounder Rotuba Extruders Inc., Eastman has created palm-sized pebbles of its cellulosic plastics that give potential users a real tactile sense of what they are like.
``These become a silent seller,'' said Paul Stead, Brewery managing partner, at the Industrial Design Society of America's annual meeting, held Oct. 27-30 in Pasadena. ``You get these into the hands of the designers, into the hands of brand owners. We want to connect Eastman with a new way to get into the marketplace.''
Kingsport, Tenn.-based Eastman now is promoting its 60-year-old Tenite resin blend as a ``natural polymer'' because of its wood-pulp base. Eastman traditionally marketed its material to molders, depending on them to sell the material to customers. The new approach aims to help consumer-product makers understand the resin's aesthetics, Stead said.
Each oval pebble fits easily into the hand. They also can be split, permitting designers to see how different colors fit together. A separate set of the pebbles is scented, using the plasticizer as the carrying agent, said Adam Ball, president and chief executive officer of Linden, N.J.-based Rotuba.
``The reason it's becoming of interest now is that fragrance has become a big thing,'' Ball said. ``Just consider what's going on with aromatherapy.''
Manufacturers could supply the scent of a shampoo on its cap, he noted, or provide a toy kitchen set with food-specific smells. Bangles and other costume jewelry could be linked to a perfume, he said. Tenite could supply a leather scent for a vehicle or a ``new car smell'' that would last throughout its life.
And the scent will last. Ball has one sample made 20 years ago that still has a roselike aroma.
Brewery plans to use Eastman's copolymers for other designer-direct marketing concepts. Other proposals to boost cellulosics put it into multicolored, high-end eyeglass frames, on a golf putter and as a protective barrier for compact discs and other multimedia discs.
``What we're doing is helping [designers] decide how to use this,'' Stead said.